USS Savannah (AOR-4)

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USS Savannah (AOR-4) underway in 1986
Name: USS Savannah
Builder: General Dynamics Corp., Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 22 January 1969
Launched: 23 April 1970
Commissioned: 5 December 1970
Decommissioned: 28 July 1995
Struck: 29 October 1998
Motto: We Never Stop Pumping
Nickname(s): Savvy Sue
Honors and
1 battle star & Meritorious Unit Commendation (Vietnam)
Fate: Transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal
General characteristics
Class and type: Wichita-class replenishment oiler
Displacement: 40,100 long tons (40,743 t) full
Length: 659 ft (201 m)
Beam: 96 ft (29 m)
Draft: 35 ft (11 m)
Propulsion: 3 × boilers, steam turbines, 2 × shafts, 32,000 shp (23,862 kW)
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Complement: 22 officers, 398 enlisted
Aircraft carried: 2 × CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters

USS Savannah (AOR-4), was a Wichita-class replenishment oiler of the United States Navy. The fifth Savannah was laid down on 22 January 1969 by the General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division at Quincy, Massachusetts, launched on 23 April 1970, sponsored by Mrs. Ralph L. Shifley, wife of Vice Admiral R. L. Shifley, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, and commissioned on 5 December 1970, Capt. Bernard P. Williams, Jr., in command.

Service history[edit]


After shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Savannah proceeded to her homeport at Norfolk, Virginia. Arriving on 12 May, she completed post-shakedown availability on 9 August, and prepared for deployment to the Mediterranean.

Savannah left Norfolk on 20 September. En route to Rota, Spain, she refueled ships taking part in a Caribbean exercise. After reporting to the 6th Fleet on 8 October, Savannah operated in Task Group 60.1. By the end of the year, she had replenished 178 ships.

Savannah continued to operate with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean until early March 1972. On 9 March, she headed west for Norfolk and arrived there eight days later. Her stay in the United States, however, was cut short by the exigencies of the Vietnam War. On 25 April, she left the Chesapeake Bay and, four days later, transited the Panama Canal. Savannah arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, on 20 May and began a five-month tour replenishing the fleet along the coast of Vietnam. She made six line swings to the Gulf of Tonkin during this time. Each swing was punctuated by a 4–6-day load out period in Subic Bay.

Savannah departed Subic Bay on 5 November, bound for Norfolk. She transited the Panama Canal on 4 December and arrived at Norfolk on the 8th. Savannah operated out of Norfolk, along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean, for almost all of 1973. On 3 December 1973, she again headed eastward to join the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. From 12 December until late May 1974, she supported units of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. On 3 June 1974, she returned to Norfolk.


From December 1976 to August 1977 the ship was laid up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for restructuring of her aft section. The 3" 50 calibre dual mounts were replaced by hangars for a pair of CH46D SeaKnight helicopters. The ship visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard again in 1980–1981, which saw the installation of a Sea Sparrow missile system and Phalanx CIWS.

From December 2 1991 to June 6 1992 the ship deployed to the Mediterranean, where it proceeded later through the Suez Canal to participate in Desert Shield. From August 11 1993 to February 5th 1994 the ship deployed to the Mediterranean, where it proceeded later through the Suez Canal to participate in Desert Shield.

Decommissioning and sale[edit]

Savannah was decommissioned on 28 July 1995, at Norfolk, Virginia, moored at the former Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia for a few years and finally laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River, Fort Eustis, Virginia. The ship was struck from the Naval Register on 29 October 1998, and transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. On 27 January 2009, the Department of Transportation signed a fee for service contract worth $515,726 with ESCO Marine of Brownsville, Texas, to scrap ex-Savannah.

The scrapping of the Savannah was featured on the television show Break It Down which aired on 8 July 2010 on the National Geographic Channel. Extensive footage of the ship was featured, chronicling the struggles with removing toxic items like asbestos before salvaging and cut up.


Savannah earned one battle star and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for service in the Vietnam War.


External links[edit]